Questions tagged [mathematics]

On standards or conventions specific to mathematics as an academic discipline, and programs that lead to a degree in this field. For regular mathematics questions, visit our sister sites Math Stack Exchange and MathOverflow.

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395 votes
14 answers
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How to ask dumb questions

I am having trouble asking questions in seminars, conferences, and public talks. As a graduate math student I often fail to keep up with speaker and more mature members of the audience at events like ...
Vlad's user avatar
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186 votes
6 answers
20k views

Is it possible to recover after a career setback such as this?

My husband got a math PhD in 2009, and could not get a research post-doc in his chosen field. We had young children at that point, and he spent two years as a lecturer, applied for hundreds of jobs, ...
guestwife's user avatar
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112 votes
3 answers
8k views

Submitting paper proving "X" soon after paper proving "X-epsilon"

I am a math postdoc, currently working on some conjecture. To avoid going into details, let's formulate it as follows: "every runcible doohickey is cromulent". A senior colleague told me last year ...
Ilia Smilga's user avatar
  • 1,386
111 votes
9 answers
30k views

"Dressing down" to impress in academic settings

I came across this highly-upvoted comment on reddit (15,300 karma) by /u/Semi-Hemi-Demigod The CEO of the company I work for said that it's not uncommon for programmers to be asked to dress down ...
Darren Ong's user avatar
  • 4,261
109 votes
7 answers
26k views

What happens if a math PhD student fails to find a proof that is the main objective of their thesis topic?

How exactly do Math theses/dissertations work? Is it fair to assume that the work involves trying to prove something? What happens if you can't? I did a thesis in Computer Science, and though my ...
pushkin's user avatar
  • 1,005
108 votes
13 answers
25k views

I have stack-exchanged through my undergrad math program. Am I likely to succeed in mathematics PhD programs?

I'm currently a third-year mathematics student at a top-20 private research university in the US (though mostly known for the humanities). We have a small undergraduate mathematics department, but we ...
Funny Morphism's user avatar
103 votes
10 answers
19k views

During peer-review, should I comment on the authors' messy code?

I'm reviewing a paper in pure mathematics. A lot of results in the paper depend heavily on computer computations, and the authors have provided in the article a link to the Magma code they used for ...
reviewer's user avatar
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97 votes
4 answers
26k views

How do mathematicians conduct research?

I am curious as to how mathematicians conduct research. I hope some of you can help me solve this little mystery. To me, mathematics is a branch where you either get it or you don't. If you see the ...
Fraïssé's user avatar
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96 votes
12 answers
23k views

First year Math PhD student; My problem solving skill has been completely atrophied and continues to decline

I'm a first year PhD student in mathematics and I'm in a pretty bad spot. Over the last year or so of undergrad and first semester of grad school, I've completely atrophied my problem solving skill. ...
Atrophied_Skills's user avatar
94 votes
14 answers
23k views

Should I seek professional help because I have a lot of math books?

I’m a graduate student in mathematics. One day, there was a discussion between graduate students about how many books a working mathematician has. Then each student would talk about their personal ...
Alexandria's user avatar
93 votes
12 answers
25k views

How should I proceed when a (famous) professor says I'm not good enough for research?

I am a PhD student in a Computer Science department, doing research of a mathematical nature. Some of my research problems drifted from my advisor's area of expertise, so I reached out to a researcher ...
Leo's user avatar
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92 votes
9 answers
20k views

Referee says the proof is wrong, but it is not, what to do?

About 3 months ago, my co-author and I submitted a mathematical paper to a journal. Yesterday, we got the editor's response and the paper has been rejected. The reason is that the referee thinks that ...
import.all's user avatar
92 votes
3 answers
12k views

Editor asks for π to be written in roman

My paper is accepted at MNRAS and in the stage of editing. There is a section where I wrote an equation using the Greek letter π as to indicate the mathematical constant π. The editor wrote: Author: ...
Antonio Ragagnin's user avatar
91 votes
25 answers
17k views

How to respond to "unfair to write English" comments?

I teach mathematics and computing; for example, our department's discrete mathematics course. As is customary for that course, it's used as the first foray into formal mathematics, including a heavy ...
Daniel R. Collins's user avatar
89 votes
11 answers
26k views

Where did I lose control of my studies?

I am a 5th MSc semester mathematics student at a local German university. Since fall, I have been working on my thesis, which is the only remaining task for finishing my studies. I had not had ...
Anton_P's user avatar
  • 1,529
85 votes
4 answers
8k views

Is someone who solely contributes negative feedback to a paper considered an author?

Say person A and person B are collaborating on a mathematics paper. It goes like this: person A repeatedly suggests proofs, and person B repeatedly finds flaws in them. Over time, this process ...
Filigreen's user avatar
  • 1,563
84 votes
10 answers
26k views

What do mathematics researchers do if they aren't good?

I am a high school student so I don't know much about academia, but I would like to clear up some confusion I have over research in mathematics. Please excuse my naivite/ignorance on this topic. I ...
Prajanan Patel's user avatar
77 votes
12 answers
23k views

My math students consider me a harsh grader. Is my teaching attitude wrong?

I am a math major grad student at a big public school, and we need to do TA every semester. I got assigned to lower level classes last couple semesters, and it's been quite difficult for me. Even ...
initial_D's user avatar
  • 1,600
76 votes
7 answers
16k views

Should I admit that I can't find a solution to a math problem?

The problem is pretty much the title. I have a bachelor and master degree in applied math. I have been assigned a small problem to start with, from a professor (who is considered very good in my field)...
ina's user avatar
  • 801
74 votes
5 answers
9k views

How does it affect the treatment of a mathematician's results, if that mathematician was a Nazi?

I've been studying uses of quaternions to study various types of orbifolds. The important thing here though is that I came across an absolutely incredible result due to Vahlen in 1901, that apparently ...
j0equ1nn's user avatar
  • 2,128
73 votes
7 answers
12k views

How to care less about teaching?

Fifth year math grad student as of this Fall. ABD, currently on target for six years in total. I have very strong feelings about the way courses should be taught, graded, and organized. I have ...
dedekindpoetssociety's user avatar
71 votes
6 answers
9k views

Should all authors on a paper be comfortable explaining every aspect of the paper?

Say I am person A who has built up some degree of expertise in mathematical topic X. Person B works on mathematical topic Y and realizes she needs a result from topic X. She asks me if I know how to ...
Filigreen's user avatar
  • 1,563
66 votes
12 answers
13k views

Reject a paper based on relevant but pointless research direction

Disclaimer: this is a hypothetical question, not (immediately) related to any concrete past, present or future reviewed paper. My context is the no-fly zone between Computer Science and Applied ...
Miguel's user avatar
  • 962
64 votes
14 answers
16k views

Inadmissible theorems in research

One of my engineering friends told me how e once had to take a make-up calculus I exam due to being hospitalised and so self-studied a lot of the missed topics. For the make-up exam, e used L'Hôpital'...
BCLC's user avatar
  • 3,143
63 votes
12 answers
30k views

Why do Computer Science degrees contain a high proportion of mathematics?

About 17 years ago I attended a top 10 UK university to study for a degree in Computer Science. Mathematics had never been a particularly strong point for me. However I (just) had the required A-...
Jimmy's user avatar
  • 587
63 votes
14 answers
22k views

I got accepted into a math PhD program but I don't feel adequate enough to attend

I got accepted into a school that I really wanted to go to for a math PhD. I finished my masters and I love math very much. It's something that I've always been extremely passionate about. I used to ...
user477465's user avatar
63 votes
3 answers
11k views

How to acknowledge a MathOverflow user?

I am writing a research paper. A small but important idea for the paper was found on MathOverflow. I know the real name of the user. I tried contacting him and offered him co-authorship, but I got no ...
user531706's user avatar
62 votes
10 answers
9k views

Would a high Stack Exchange rep make a difference in a job interview?

I am a PhD student in mathematics going into graph theory. I hope to either do a post-doc or (hopefully!) get a tenure-track position at a research-oriented university after graduation. I don't have a ...
Sean English's user avatar
  • 2,312
62 votes
1 answer
7k views

I found a nontrivial mistake in my currently-under-review paper. Should I send a correction to the editor?

I submitted the paper to a respectable journal about five months ago. My field is mathematics, and I'm at the postdoc stage of my career. The proof of one of my theorems is more or less completely ...
anon's user avatar
  • 623
60 votes
11 answers
18k views

Is it frowned upon to go to office hours as a graduate student?

I'm a graduate student (PhD, first year) in physics, and there have been a few times where I just can't figure out something regarding the material/subject of the class. Normally I just tell myself ...
Arturo don Juan's user avatar
58 votes
10 answers
13k views

Is it appropriate to email a professor with a simpler solution than the one she provided?

I am in a graduate math program in the US, and the professor is teaching via online lectures. The proof she provideed for one of the theorems is a little bit tricky to understand. I think I found a ...
Blue's user avatar
  • 1,597
57 votes
7 answers
14k views

Student wants to show everybody how much he knows

I have read this question, where the OP asked how to handle silly questions. In the excellent answer of Irwin, the 6th point attracted my attention: If it's a matter of the student talking on and ...
KKL's user avatar
  • 593
57 votes
7 answers
9k views

Is it standard for a math research paper to include less detail in proofs than a typical textbook would?

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student in Mathematics. Recently, I read a mathematics paper. It seems that the proof in the paper is not as convincing as what one might find in a textbook. For ...
fourth year's user avatar
57 votes
10 answers
16k views

Asking a professor to teach better

In my mathematics program, one of the qual prep courses is being taught by a professor who, put bluntly, is not putting in the effort. He is essentially reading from the book (which I don’t ...
Ryan's user avatar
  • 844
56 votes
9 answers
14k views

How to proceed when a mathematical result contradicts existing literature?

An author has proven an interesting mathematical result, but notices that this result contradicts existing literature. Does the author have to find an explicit error or counter-example to the ...
kantadou's user avatar
  • 660
56 votes
6 answers
74k views

Non academic career options for PhD in Math

I am thinking of getting my M.S. in Computer Science. I chose C.S. because I enjoy programming and because its a solid choice, career wise. Low unemployment, good pay, all that jazz. But my real ...
Taylor Huston's user avatar
55 votes
9 answers
11k views

Is it a bad idea to use other professors' Youtube videos as lectures?

I am a graduate student at an American university, and I have been assigned to teach an online math class. I have noticed that there are many lecture videos available on Youtube made by actual ...
user56202's user avatar
  • 820
54 votes
9 answers
14k views

Is there such a thing as fraud in mathematics?

Can you commit fraud in a mathematics publication? Or is this a privilege of empirical sciences? If a mathematician jumps from one bit of information to another that does not follow logically, from ...
Quora Feans's user avatar
  • 4,053
54 votes
5 answers
14k views

Double blind peer review when paper cites author's GitHub repo for code

I and my coauthor wrote a paper and the project involved creating a (small) software library. Part of the novelty of the paper is the output of the code, which is a digital object not intended for by-...
David Roberts's user avatar
53 votes
15 answers
16k views

If you know a family member who is much more qualified and capable in mathematics than you are, should find another field of specialisation?

Imposter Syndrome and depression: I feel pretty depressed that I am not as "qualified" as a close family member. In particular, this family member has undergraduate and graduate (PhD) degrees from Ivy ...
depressedguy1234's user avatar
53 votes
11 answers
21k views

Why would a professor (say in pure math) want to take PhD students?

Why would a professor doing pure math/ theoretical computer science want to take PhD students? I understand that in computational and experimental sciences taking students is at least beneficial to ...
k99731's user avatar
  • 1,170
53 votes
7 answers
9k views

Will not collaborating hurt the career of a math postdoc?

I am a math postdoc, and about to start applying for tenure-track (research oriented) jobs soon. Besides writing 2 papers with my Phd advisor while I was in graduate school, all the papers I wrote ...
user56703's user avatar
  • 441
52 votes
7 answers
9k views

Should I agree to review papers as a postdoc?

I am a post doc in mathematics, and was just sent a request to review a paper. This is the first time it happened to me. I never heard of this journal before, but it is a Springer journal, and upon ...
the L's user avatar
  • 1,357
52 votes
9 answers
6k views

Advice on publishing original theorems with easy proofs

I got a rejection recently on a short paper that gave a fairly short proof that a conjecture of a well-known mathematician was false. The reviewer said that “while the results are new and interesting,...
mbsq's user avatar
  • 1,185
51 votes
4 answers
8k views

Publication - discovered an error in the proof of theorem which the referees have not spotted, what to do?

I have finished my Phd in maths shortly. A few days ago, I have heard a revision decision from a very good journal where I submitted my paper. The comments from referees are generally fairly positive, ...
mathsfm's user avatar
  • 519
51 votes
4 answers
10k views

Do peer-reviewers ignore details in complicated mathematical computations and theorems?

Upon reading many papers in my field, which is Mathematics. I have come across many complicated theorems and proofs in which long overwhelming computations have been done. While paying attention to ...
Med Med's user avatar
  • 2,358
50 votes
6 answers
11k views

Regret after not being able to solve a problem that my supervisor did easily

I'm a first year PhD student and I was asked to think about a problem last week and I tried to work out some examples, did some computations, but I wasn't successful. Basically, I didn't really make ...
It'sMe's user avatar
  • 2,134
49 votes
7 answers
9k views

Publishing a result that is aesthetically pleasing, but has no practical value

I am currently writing a paper that I wish to publish in a mathematics journal. During the course of my research, I have discovered a result that is aesthetically pleasing, i.e., contains a form of ...
Klangen's user avatar
  • 1,276
49 votes
9 answers
11k views

Do you keep your study notes publicly available?

I am considering to create a wiki/blog for most of my study notes that I have made or taken digitally. Also, for the handwritten and rough ones I am thinking about storing them in my GitHub ...
Arjo's user avatar
  • 603
49 votes
2 answers
5k views

Unsolicited request for a scientific collaboration

I have a research problem in an area of Mathematics. There is mathematician whose domain of expertise is very near to the subject of my problem. I read frequently his works, he probably doesn't know ...
98rttjh's user avatar
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